Do the Shooters call the shots in Sydney?

Today, it's been reported the Shooters Party wants the City of Sydney carved up to create a tiny CBD Council.It's hard to see why a couple of elephant shooting cranks who attracted less than half a per cent of the city vote would have any say in what happens with the global city. Until you see their Facebook page (now deleted), where they called me, "one of the most gun-hating politicians anywhere in Australia."But the Shooters have forced through shooting in national parks and the legislation that gave business two votes and residents just one - so this latest harebrained scheme has to be taken seriously.The plan to divide the City of Sydney shows how out of touch the Shooters and Fishers are - while they want to take the city back to the '70s and '80s we're planning for the future. The city is currently undergoing a huge period of accelerated growth and investment. Based on current trends, $30 to $40 billion will be invested in development in our local government area over the next decade.Contact the Premier, and the Local Government Minister, and let them know that you want the boundaries of the City of Sydney to remain as is. NSW Premier Mike Baird MP Email: or via this form: Phone: 02 9976 2773 Twitter: @mikebairdMP Facebook: Minister for Local Government Paul Toole MP Email: Phone: 02 8574 7000 Twitter: @PaulTooleMP Facebook: The Sydney Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly against this proposal, describing it as "politics at its worst."It's worth reading the comments from Executive Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, Patricia Forsythe, in full because they really cut to the heart of the issue: The proposed legislation should be rejected by the NSW Government as it has nothing to do with improving the City of Sydney and everything to do with the agenda the Shooters first revealed with their dodgy two votes for business legislation last year. The argument the Shooters are running, that reduced boundaries would encourage investment by business in the development of the CBD, ignores the fact that the private sector is showing confidence in the future of the city with billions of dollars' worth of investment including new hotels, commercial and residential buildings already approved or at application stage for the CBD. The Sydney Business Chamber, and other business groups, advocate for fewer local councils across the Greater Sydney Region, so it would be illogical to propose or support, at the same time, shrinking the boundaries of the CBD. The City of Sydney's submission to the NSW Government's Fit for the Future Inquiry, revealed a council that is providing services for business, big and small, and demonstrated its ability to manage major developments such as Green Square. If it was broken we would argue for change, but the City of Sydney staff work closely with key business groups on projects that are in the interest of business. It was regrettable that the NSW Government backed the specific changes to the business vote for the city, introduced by the Shooters, instead of putting up their own proposal and we would urge the Government to consult with business on this proposal. Excising parts of the city and merging them with adjoining councils ignores the reality that in future years parts of the city that are predominantly residential will represent new commercial centres to support the CBD. PricewaterhouseCoopers said the City of Sydney is a 'benchmark against which other councils could be compared.' The NSW Government's own Treasury Corporation (T-Corp) rates the City's finances as 'strong' with a 'positive outlook' - the only NSW council to receive this rating. There's just no sensible economic reasoning or business case for these massively disruptive proposals.In 2013-2014, the City oversaw $3.95 billion of development, over four times more than the nearest council. Last year we determined 2,677 development applications and their modifications and have consistently been in the top 10 for development application assessment times while processing the highest value and some of the highest numbers of complex applications.The last time the Liberals shrunk the city council boundaries, the council almost ended up bankrupt. Why risk that happening again when the City's booming? There's just no sensible economic reasoning or business case for these massively disruptive proposals.If the Premier wants to work out what's best for the city, he should ask the people who live and work here - unlike the Shooters' Borsak, we did, and 80% of the City's residents and 70% of businesses said they like the City of Sydney the way it is.

Art from the Heart of the Cross

Last week I was pleased to launch the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre's Art from the Heart of the Cross exhibition. The project aims to provide a safe and positive avenue for self-expression to those who use the Centre's services.As local member for Bligh I shared the community's serious concerns about the number of young people injecting on the street and dying of overdoses in back lanes.In 1997, following the Police Royal Commission, I was a member of the NSW Parliament's Joint Select Committee into Injecting Rooms. The Committee took compelling evidence from families whose children had died from overdosing, and information on effective action in other countries.While the Majority Committee Report recommended the trial of injecting rooms not proceed, together with crossbenchers Ian Cohen, Ann Symonds and John Mills I compiled a minority report calling for a scientifically rigorous trial of safe injecting rooms as part of an integrated public health and safety approach.Following a harrowing front page Sun Herald photo of a young boy shooting up in Caroline Lane, Redfern, Premier Bob Carr committed to a Drug Summit if Labor won the 1999 election.The Summit brought together MPs, members of the legal and medical professions, church and community groups. My Motion to establish a supervised injecting centre received majority support.Since the Centre's opening, residents and business operators in Kings Cross no longer see people slumped in doorways, streets and parks. St Vincent's sees much fewer overdose victims and most importantly, many lives have been saved.It's an incredibly valuable service. Support it by going to Art from the Heart of the Cross, which runs until 18 September:

Sydney Park Wetlands to be Renamed

We're giving the four recently-upgraded Sydney Park wetlands new names that commemorate the area's Aboriginal history.The new names represent species of bats, birds, lizards and grasshoppers in different Aboriginal languages and are an important way to promote awareness of local Aboriginal culture.City historians researched Sydney Park and considered names of Aboriginal origin that reflect the biodiversity of the park and its wetlands. The City also worked closely with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to identify appropriate names.These names will be open for public feedback later this month before the City takes the results to the Geographical Names Board of NSW for consideration. Wirrambi Wetland - meaning 'bat', relates to the newly-created habitat for microbats at the park. Guwali Wetland - meaning 'shag' or 'cormorant', recognises the waterbirds that were part of the local pre-industrial landscape; Bunmarra Wetland - meaning 'lizard', refers to the growing blue-tongue lizard population in the park. Gilbanung Wetland - meaning 'grasshoper', is an insect prevalent in the park. Since 2004, we have invested over $23 million in transforming a derelict former brick-making site and rubbish tip into a much loved, attractive regional park.The wetlands create a haven for native frogs and birds and encourage bush regeneration. We have just completed an $11.3 million storm harvesting project with a picturesque series of water cascades, stepping stones and informal paths to enjoy the water and wildlife.

Supporting Fashion in our City

Tonight helped launch Vogue Fashion's Night Out - one of my favourite nights on the Sydney fashion calendar and an event the City has committed to sponsor for the next three years.I really enjoyed exploring the special installations and pop-ups around Pitt St Mall and Martin Place. Last year over 180,000 people attended VFNO and it felt like more tonight.In the face of increasing challenges for online shopping and a general fall in consumer confidence, retail still generates an estimated $3 billion for our city's economy each year. With some VFNO helpers. Our Retail Advisory Panel has told us that industry-led events like VFNO are an effective way to increase foot traffic and support our retail sector, as well as being vital to our status as a global city and a premier retail destination.VFNO is part of Sydney Is Fashion, a season of spring events dedicated to celebrating style in Sydney. Sydney is Fashion also includes Fashion Saturday on 12 September and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Sydney from 24-26 September.Fashion Saturday will see more than 100 local businesses and fashion retailers across our villages take part in the day of designer exhibitions, exclusive promotions, styling advice and bespoke fashion events promising to be the 'ultimate shopping day' in Sydney's villages.Our city is home to some of Australia's most exciting fashion designers and retailers, and I encourage everyone to show their support by shopping at the independent retailers in their local area this Fashion Saturday.For full details on the Sydney Is Fashion program:

Busting Myths at the Festival or Urbanism

Last night I spoke at the launch of the Festival of Urbanism at the University of Sydney. The Festival will host a series of talks and conversations on planning and making our cities.I spoke about the myth that Australians are averse to high-density living and still preference a quarter-acre block, serviced by roads and mega-malls for shopping.Contrary to that myth, Australians now want a mixture of housing choices. Many want to live in a semi-detached home or an apartment in locations that are close to family or friends, work and shops. That's important, because high-density living is more sustainable and should be encouraged, but it must be matched with the necessary amenity.If high-density is to work it needs to be actively serviced with community infrastructure such as schools and public transport, parks and green spaces, a lively social and cultural life and a safe and diverse night-time culture.The facts that Australia has one of the biggest ecological footprints and highest rates of obesity in the OECD should be of concern to government leaders. We must support the development of high-density living by increasing the public works that make our densely-populated areas liveable.You can read the full text of my speech below. FESTIVAL OF URBANISMSeptember 1, 2015University of Sydney I'm pleased to be able to join you for this Festival of Urbanism.The renowned urbanist, Jane Jacobs believed in dense, mixed use and multicultural urban environments. She saw the community benefit and beauty in the energetic nature of people-focussed city streets that enabled many cultures, many uses and a diversity of transport options to create rich experiences and dynamic places and neighbourhoods.She was a strong advocate that a thriving city could only be built through public participation and civic activism.Like Jane, I am a committed urbanist - both philosophically and politically.As many of you here today would agree - urbanisation is one of the most effective and responsible ways to address key challenges of the 21st century.CITIES AND SUBURBIAFor the first time in history, over half the world's population live in cities, and that proportion is growing. By 2050, it's been estimated it will have risen to about 70 per cent. Despite the mythologising of the land and rural Australia, we have long been a highly urbanised country. Today, two-thirds of our population live in capital cities. It's estimated that by 2031, the number of families in the City of Sydney will increase by 45 per cent.Our State and Federal Governments however are yet to catch up. Their policies still reflect the idea that a 'good life' is exemplified by quarter-acre block, serviced by radial roads carrying drivers to work in the city and a district mega-mall for shopping.We know that this head in the sand, 1950's view of the world is wrong!Australia's capital cities account for 64 per cent of the nation's GDP; They house over two-thirds of Australia's workforce; They've supplied 1.5 million people with new jobs in the past decade; In the four years to 2010, they attracted 85 per cent of highly-skilled migrants; They educate 80 per cent of all tertiary students in the country; and They are forecast to house another 10 million Australians by 2056. That's 72 per cent of all future population growth. The Grattan Institute's 2011 report on housing is still relevant - it identified a mismatch between the housing Australians say they want and the housing we have.Contrary to myth and assumption, Australians want a mixture of housing choices. Many want to live in a semi-detached home or an apartment in locations that are close to family or friends, or to shops.Urbanisation is critical because we can't keep developing our food basin and we shouldn't sentence people to a life in the outskirts of suburbia, cut off from effective transport and services. The facts that Australia has one of the biggest ecological footprints and highest rates of obesity in the OECD should also be of concern to government leaders.The State and Federal Government's lack of interest ignores the lifestyle choice of the majority of Australians and the realities of the information and knowledge revolutions taking place in our cities.Australia's Council of Capital City Lord Mayors — representing the cities of Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney— say: "Get it right for the cities, and you'll get it right for the nation."I believe the key to a successful global city is one that is environmentally sustainable, is actively serviced with community infrastructure and parks and green spaces with a rich variety of choices and activities; a lively social and cultural life and a safe and diverse night-time culture. A city guided by the principles of design excellence.As custodians of this global city we not only need to be providing floor space for business, hotels for visitors and homes for our residents, we also have a responsibility to create places that our community can connect and be offered diversity of experiences, whether physically, emotionally, intellectually or virtually.Good cities need the armature of public works that gives them the liveability that in turn attracts the mobile global workforce. Places that are good for people to live are also good places to work and do business.SUSTAINABLE SYDNEY 2030When I became Lord Mayor in 2004, I wanted a plan that could continue no matter who was in Town Hall, Macquarie St or Canberra. So we undertook the largest ever community consultation in the City's history with residents and businesses, government and statutory authorities, visitors, and educational and cultural institutions.97 per cent of people told us they wanted us to take action on climate change. They also said they want a city with a strong economy, one that supports the arts and connects its people to each other and the world.Sydney 2030 is the cornerstone of everything we do and has won wide support and worldwide acclaim.At the City we consult and research, we commit and then we do.Since 2004, we've completed over 250 major projects including parks, playgrounds, childcare, pools, libraries, theatres, community and cultural spaces. We're now working on 370 projects as part of our ten-year plan.We've approved around $25 billion worth of high-quality development and significant urban renewal is underway.We actively encourage design excellence in private development and our own public projects. We are advised by our Design Advisory Panel, made up of eminent practitioners, and we have an innovative design excellence program that requires a competitive design process for all major buildings—a world first.Through this program, over 100 projects have been awarded bonus floor space for design excellence, and a number have been recognised internationally. In the last ten years, our public infrastructure projects have won over 80 national and international awards.This remarkable track record has led to our growing reputation and international profile for city design and liveability.CLIMATE CHANGEThe greatest threat cities face is climate change but unfortunately, in Australia, we have not had the political leadership we need on this issue.The Federal Government's target of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels places us at the back of the pack internationally. We can and must do more.Australia emits more greenhouse gases per capita than any other developed nation and stronger targets are a key part of encouraging other nations to do more.The community wants us to do more. Recent polling by the Climate Institute found two-thirds of Australians want the Federal Government to do more on climate change, and just under sixty per cent to be a world leader in climate change solutions.Our own work at the City shows that more ambitious targets are both possible and economically responsible.The City's Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy sets the goal of a 70 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions based on 2006 levels for both our own operations and the Local Government Area.The target is backed by a suite of innovative Master Plans.We have an Energy Efficiency Master Plan to reduce energy usage by over 33 per by 2030 - almost half our target - and save residents and businesses over $200 million.Our Renewable Energy Master Plan shows how Sydney could be powered 100 per cent by renewable energy by 2030.Other master plans have been developed for advanced waste treatment, climate change adaptation and local water provision.We are making good progress towards our targets.We've reduced our own greenhouse emissions by 21 per cent - next year, it will reach 26 per cent - and in 2007 we became the first carbon neutral local government in Australia.Greenhouse emissions across our Local Government Area have fallen by 12 per cent at the same time as we have enjoyed a period of strong economic growth. 40 per cent of jobs in NSW over the past five years have been created in our local government area, and $3.9 billion of new development was approved last year.Our carbon intensity - the amount of greenhouse emissions for each dollar of economic output - has fallen by almost 30 per cent.Partnerships are essential to reach our goals. Our Better Buildings Partnership includes leading public, private and institutional landlords that collectively own 60 per cent of Sydney's CBD office space.The group works collaboratively to improve the sustainability of their buildings, so far delivering a 31 per cent reduction in emissions since 2006 with a saving of $25 million.The City is an active member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, established in 2005 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate risks and impacts. The C40 group is made up of 75 cities, contributes 25 per cent of the global GDP, represents 1 in 12 people worldwide and has taken over 8,000 actions to combat climate change.TRANSPORTLike their shameful policy on climate change, the Federal Government is way off course in its woeful attempt to address the urgent needs of Australian capital cities. Rather than investing in sorely-needed public transport, it is funding roads like the $18 billion WestConnex in Sydney that will only increase congestion.It's back to the 1950s, with a vengeance!Congestion already costs Sydney $5 billion a year; by 2020, that will soar to $8 billion. But experience across Australia and the world is that new roads only bring more cars, and more congestion, so the "roads cure" is a myth that needs busting - for the sake of our climate and the sake of our city.When workers from Western Sydney travel to the city centre for work, about 90 per cent use public transport. What they need is vastly improved public transport, not new toll roads which - with end-of-trip parking factored in, could cost up to $240 a week per commuter.After 16 frustrating years of inaction on transport by the previous State Government, we did our own research with the best minds in transport and city design, including internationally renowned urbanist Jan Gehl, to develop a transport policy to address worsening congestion.Now most of our transport policies are reflected in the current Government's own transport strategy.It's hard for political game-playing to compete with common sense, research and best practise!The key project is the $1.6 billion, 12-kilometre light rail line, connecting Randwick and Kingsford in the south-east with Circular Quay. The City has committed $220 million to the public domain elements of the project.Within our own jurisdiction we initiated a separated, destination-based, bike network to provide a viable transport option for those who want to ride, and we are improving pedestrian links and battling for pedestrians to be given better priority over through traffic.CULTURE AND ARTSEach year the City invests more than $34 million in the cultural life of our city through sponsorship of internationally-renowned festivals and events, and in public art that surprises and delights, including our Eora Journey, a cultural trail that recognises the continuing Aboriginal presence in our city.Millions of people watch our festivals and events - New Year's Eve fireworks and Chinese New Year Festival - the biggest outside of Asia - just to name a few.In the next ten years we'll invest $500 million on a range of cultural initiatives, including new facilities.Our campaign to allow small bars in NSW is a classic example of city leadership succeeding in the face of entrenched government policy.Despite vitriolic opposition from vested liquor interests which had held the major parties to ransom for decades, I gave notice of a private members bill in NSW Parliament to change the law and, along with a grass-roots movement Raise the Bar, shined a spotlight on the overwhelming community support for small bars in NSW. Despite former AHA President John Thorpe's insisting that, "People in Sydney don't want to sit in a bar and drink chardonnay and read a book", the Government was forced to change the law and we've seen a small bar revolution.City governments are better placed to support growing creative industries than other levels of government because we understand that a rich cultural life is not peripheral, but vital to a strong, thriving and prosperous city.We have provided in our own properties, for subsidised live-work spaces, creative hubs and showrooms for our young creatives and tech start-ups.THE CITY TODAYSince 2004, our work has fundamentally changed our city and contributed to spectacular growth - boosting the economy.Sydney is a major driver of the national economy - the City's 26 square kilometres generate over $108 billion in revenue to the State and Federal governments. It accounts for almost one-fourteenth of Australia's total economy, and almost a quarter of the entire State of NSW.Sydney is the cradle of job growth in the finance, creative, tech start up and business services sector as well as a major tourist and business destination.It's significant that Sydney is beginning to be recognised as an innovative city. In a recent ranking of over 200 international cities by the consultancy 2ThinkNow, Sydney jumped several places, out-ranking Melbourne for the first time to be placed 17th in the top 20 innovative cities.Our local government area is one of the State's fastest-growing residential areas and in the five years leading up to 2011, 2,000 new businesses opened and more than 50,000 new jobs were created across the LGA. Much of these jobs were located in our village areas.Sydneysiders, once averse to high-density living, are discovering its benefits when it includes convenient access to employment, improved infrastructure, quality open space, easy access to local shops and a rich cultural life and I am very pleased to officially open your Festival of Urbanism.

Have Your Say on the Future of Our City.

If you're concerned about a mega amalgamation make sure the Premier and his Local Government Minister know. Click to read the City's "Fit for the Future" submission. Premier Mike Baird MPEmail: 02 9976 2773Twitter: @mikebairdMPFacebook: Government Minister Paul Toole MPEmail: 02 8574 7000Twitter: @PaulTooleMPFacebook: NO AMALGAMATION?The City has demonstrated that we are indeed "Fit for the Future" and should not be amalgamated with neighbouring councils. Amalgamations are enormously disruptive and would put at risk our plans for the future of our city.We have scale and capacityThe City of Sydney delivers high quality services and infrastructure while keeping rates and charges low. Our residential population recently topped 200,000 and we have around 1.2 million people in our area daily. The City generates $108 billion worth of economic activity annually - over 30 per cent of metropolitan Sydney's economic activity and almost a quarter of the NSW State gross domestic product. We've completed over 250 major projects including parks, playgrounds, childcare, pools, libraries, theatres, community and cultural spaces - more than any other NSW council. We're now working on 370 projects as part of our ten-year plan.We've committed to reducing our carbon emissions 70 per cent by 2030. We've already slashed them by 21 per cent and are on target to achieve 26 per cent by 2016.We were Australia's first Carbon Neutral Government, we've installed solar panels and low-carbon LED street lights, and built the largest urban water recycling program in Australia.We are sustainableThe City of Sydney's demonstrated effective governance, strong finances and skilled personnel are critical for securing Sydney's continued transformation as a modern global city and to capitalise on unprecedented development investment potential over the next decade.Leading independent financial auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers say we are a "benchmark against which other councils could be compared" and the NSW Government's own Treasury Corporation rate our finances as "strong" with a "positive outlook" - the only NSW council to receive this rating.We are in a period of unprecedented investmentIn 2013-2014, we oversaw $3.95 billion of development, over four times more than the nearest council. In the past decade, we approved development worth $24 billion. Last year we approved over 1,800 development applications and have consistently been in the top ten for development application assessment times while processing the highest value and some of the highest numbers of complex applications.We've achieved this while maintaining our commitment to sustainability, design quality, heritage and livability.Amalgamations are disruptive without demonstrated benefitThe financial benefit of an amalgamation is marginal compared to the risks of a loss of business and development confidence due to an uncertain investment climate and disruption to city operations and critical infrastructure projects. A decline in construction activity of just one per cent over the next decade due to disruption or delays would have a negative economic impact in excess of $300 million.By contrast, any benefits from an amalgamation would be marginal. Detailed analysis by Randwick City Council, reviewed and supported by the City of Sydney, identifies potential savings of just $146 million over 10 years resulting from the State Government's preferred amalgamation - that's just 54 cents per resident a week.MORE INFORMATIONTo read more about our process and the City's submission, go here: my Lord Mayoral Minute on the Fit for the Future Submission, endorsed by the Council, here: 

First New High Street in a Century

Yesterday the Minister for Planning Rob Stokes and I walked the City's first new high street in over a century.Ebsworth Street is now ready for the cafes and homes being built in the heart of the Green Square Town Centre.Footpaths are finished; stone kerbs installed; bronze smart poles with LED lights are upright; asphalt road surface is down.It will be furnished with a coordinated suite of street furniture.The street will feature garden beds and large deciduous street trees that form part of the on-site treatment and reuse of storm water. Inspecting the Green Square trunk drain with the Minister. Development in Green Square is racing, with 50 apartments completed every week. There will be more than 53,000 people living here by 2030. Given that rapid pace of development, it is critical that appropriate infrastructure is in place for new communities moving in and those who are already living and working there.Interestingly, before works starts on the new shops and apartments, Ebsworth Street will disappear. Within weeks, large sections will be buried under huge sheets of industrial fabric, covered in sand and topped with a thick layer of concrete.Encasing the street in this protective cocoon will allow huge trucks and machinery building the apartments to move around freely without damaging the footpaths, roadways and the services beneath them.Once the first buildings are ready next year, the concrete will be peeled off. As well as the footpaths and roadway, all the infrastructure - including gas, electricity, water and recycled water, NBN cabling and drainage - will already be in ready for use.This unusual technique of building then burying a street will ensure residents of the new town centre won't have to wait months while major public works are carried out.Ebsworth Street is named after Octavius Ebsworth, a major 19th century woolbroker from this area, so it's fitting that Ebsworth Street will be the main shopping street in the Green Square Town Centre.Ebsworth was a canny businessman and his tweed factory was reputedly the largest in Australia in the 1860s.Green Square will be a high density urban village with a thriving town centre and sense of community. The community will be able to walk or cycle to the important new community facilities we're building, including: a library; playing fields; parks; and aquatic centre.

Onward to Paris

Last night's City Talk, "The Politics of Climate Change", gave us much to think about as momentum builds toward a new global climate agreement in Paris.Connie Hedegaard, chair of the OECD Round Table for Sustainability, delivered a keynote speech that gave us much hope for what can be achieved in Paris. We were then joined in discussion by Mark Butler MP, Shadow Minister for the Environment, Senator Larissa Waters, co-deputy leaders of the Australian Greens and Dr John Hewson, former leader of the Liberal Party.Connie Hedegaard's extraordinary CV includes Danish Minister for Climate and Energy and the European Commissioner for Action on Climate Action - so she was ideally placed to talk to us about the prospects for the Paris summit.Connie told the packed crowd at Town Hall that there is no reason to postpone action and instead we should be giving businesses and communities the predictability of a gradual transition to a low carbon economy.She also said we should be open about the fact that addressing climate change won't be cost-free. But that cost will be far less than inaction and presents the question to those who acknowledge that climate change is real and we have a responsibility to act for the next generations: How much should we be spending to try to save the planet?NASA animation of temperature data from 1880-2011.What we need, Connie argued, is a paradigm shift. The market is perfectly capable of acting in short term interests, which means it falls to politicians to act for the long term. Such long term planning may include pricing externalities like pollution to signal to the market there is a need to innovate and transform.There was cause for hope in her speech. 2014 was the hottest year on record, but it was also the first year we stabilised global emissions, while seeing a global increase of GDP of 3%. And it was the first year we installed more new global energy capacity from renewables than fossil fuel. We can't always see that transition is occurring while we're in the middle of change, but Paris presents a real opportunity for us to build momentum and progress effective global climate action. Watch Connie's address here. I was also pleased to hear from Connie about the Danish experience. With bipartisan support, Denmark transitioned its economy from reliance on oil and gas to become a great exporter of renewable energy.Unfortunately, in Australia we have not had the level of political leadership needed to address climate change. The Federal Government has announced a target of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 on 2005 levels, putting us at the back of the pack.We can and must do more. If the world is to prevent dangerous climate change, this is the critical decade. Substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed if we are to limit global temperature increases to less than the two degrees science tells us we must to avoid dangerous levels of climate change.Australia emits more greenhouse gases per capita than any other developed nation and stronger targets are a key part of encouraging other nations to do more.It is incumbent on us to take the initiative to demand our political leaders set climate targets and take action to ensure we are not the generation that leaves future generations to deal with runaway climate change. Watch Connie's address and the rest of the City Talk here:

Not too late to get local government reform back on track

Yesterday I appeared at the final hearing of the Legislative Council Inquiry into Local Government.The Inquiry may be our last opportunity to get the process of worthwhile local government reform back on track, given the possibility the Government may abandon its "Fit for the Future" process and sack all councils before embarking on a series of forced amalgamations. The NSW Government wants to create a mega-council. We need a 21st century system of local government and planning in New South Wales but the Government's obsession with amalgamations has overshadowed more significant and generally supported recommendations for reform.The Sydney Metropolitan Mayors - an organisation of 24 inner and outer urban Sydney metropolitan councils representing more than two million residents - supports the majority of reforms in Revitalising Local Government, the final report of the Independent Local Government Review Panel.The most important recommendations relate to the financial sustainability of local government and improving the relationship between local and state government. The report talked about a "legacy of distrust" and suggests there is a need to establish a mature relationship based on shared information, negotiation and collaborative planning.Sydney Metropolitan Mayors proposed the Government establish four implementation working groups that would cover the key priority areas for local government reform: Financial Sustainability, Collaboration and Coordination, Governance and Continuous Improvement.These working groups would have included State Government representatives, elected officials, experienced local professionals and technical experts. They would have been action oriented, enabling cooperative work to proceed with a focus on quick implementation where possible, while working to build consensus on other issues and developing alternative approaches where necessary.This approach would have seen local government reform proceeding in a coherent, comprehensive and collaborative way.The Fit for the Future process seems to be aimed at reducing the number of local councils in NSW - not at making them more efficient. We know this because the Government has not produced evidence amalgamations lead to greater efficiency or financial outcomes.It is not too late to change course and tackle this much needed reform in a coherent, comprehensive and collaborative way. By working cooperatively we can progress toward worthwhile local government reform.

Minister: Reject Forced Amalgamations

Reports in Fairfax and News Ltd. papers this week give us the clearest sign yet that the State Government is planning forced amalgamation of local councils.The reports say that Local Government Minister Paul Toole has put a plan to Cabinet for all councils to be sacked and replaced with administrators to fast track amalgamations. The City could be part of a mega-council the size of Tasmania. This week I joined the Sydney Metropolitan Mayors are calling on Local Government Minister Paul Toole to abandon and publicly reject any plan to sack every council in NSW to implement its amalgamations agenda.Forced amalgamations are costly, disruptive and undemocratic. To secretly plan forced amalgamations, especially before IPART completes its recommendations, demonstrates complete disregard for proper process and community involvement in the future of local government.How can we trust anything about the local government reform process if the Government is developing a secret plan to ram through amalgamations?Council amalgamations currently require the NSW Government to apply to the independent Boundaries Commission or to the chief executive of the Office of Local Government and run public consultation on the proposed change.Reports in Fairfax and News Ltd. papers say the Government will look to circumvent these requirements to unilaterally redraw council boundaries across NSW.The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal has been tasked with reviewing submissions from each local council and making recommendations to the Government by October.Councils across Sydney ran extensive consultation and found overwhelming opposition to amalgamations. Statistically valid polling carried out over the past four months found that 85% of Sydney residents supported their council standing alone and more than 60% actually selected the stand alone option as their first preference.The NSW Government's obsession with amalgamations has overshadowed more significant and generally supported recommendations contained in Revitalising Local Government, the final report of the Independent Local Government Review Panel.We need a 21st century system of local government and planning in New South Wales, which is why Sydney Metropolitan Mayors supports the majority of recommendations made by the Independent Local Government Review Panel, particularly a stronger partnership between state and local government and supporting councils to be financially sustainable.Some Sydney Metropolitan Mayors member councils are pursuing voluntary amalgamations where there is support from their communities and clear benefit to improve sustainability.Write to him directly to let him know forced amalgamations are undemocratic and misguided.Paul Toole MPMinister for Local GovernmentEmail: 02 8574 7000Twitter: @PaulTooleMPFacebook:

Creating a New Skate Park in Glebe

This weekend the City is running a Crescent Skate Space information session to continue working with the community on a skate park in Glebe.We're presenting the draft concept design as part of the second stage of the Johnstons Creek Master Plan. The plan was adopted two years ago to provide a consistent framework for open space in Harold Park and this area.Our plans for this area will add another piece to the Glebe foreshore parklands and open up more of Sydney's foreshore to public use. Our skate park in Waterloo. The plan is to remove the remaining buildings on The Crescent, north of the pet store and carpet warehouse. This will allow us to open up the closed viaduct archways and to create new green space along The Crescent, connecting to Federal Park.The skate park is planned to be at the far northern end, away from the residential areas and opposite the TAFE.The old playground will be refurbished and we are thinking of expanding it to provide play equipment for slightly older children.We'll have new plantings and street trees along The Crescent to frame the skate park and the new area will provide for active as well as passive recreation, though without formal sports grounds.We're also be dealing with the existing drainage problem, creating a gentle grading to direct water flow to the canal, giving better drainage at Federal Park.Just to the south of our project is a new child-care centre, located on a site where there always has been a building. There is now an urgent need for more child care places in the City.The finished project will provide for a range of needs for the very diverse existing and new community coming in to Harold Park.You can help design a new skate space by taking the design survey here: The Crescent Skate Workshop held last month.

Help Us Create a More Navigable City

No one knows a neighbourhood better than the people who live there, so I'm asking for your invaluable advice to help us create a City that's easier for visitors to get around.We're rolling out of a comprehensive network of new wayfinding signs and to make sure the right destinations are included and we choose the ideal locations for these signs, we want your input.You can help by using interactive online technology to drop markers onto local maps to quickly and easily suggest landmarks that should be signposted, and where best to place directional signs.This feedback will assist with the placement of new information pylons and street signs that will be installed at key locations throughout the city and surrounding villages, making it easier for residents and visitors to navigate Sydney's streets on foot.Walking is one of the best ways to get around Sydney but clearer and more consistent wayfinding information is critical to help everyone explore our city's great attractions.Walking also boosts the health and wellbeing of people living and working in Sydney, helps tackle congestion and supports local businesses.The information pylons and directional signs are part of the City's Legible Sydney Wayfinding System that also includes a network of new braille and tactile street signs to be installed at all signalised pedestrian crossings throughout the City.The pylons feature a pedestrian-friendly map, showing libraries, schools and community centres, while the street signs point the way to local amenities. Community feedback will also help determine any additional information that should be included and where the signs should be placed.Ways to have you say: Pin a main destination: Destinations relevant beyond village boundaries for visitors and locals. For example: Sydney Opera House, Town Hall, Hyde Park and Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre. Pin a local destination: Destinations relevant mainly within village boundaries. For example: Glebe Library, Ultimo Community Centre and local schools. Pin a location for a proposed sign: Locations where you would like to see signage telling you the distance and directions to places. Pin a comment: General comments and suggestions. The proposed wayfinding location plans will be on public exhibition from 10 August to 1 September. People can go online to view the designs, give feedback and make suggestions at: 

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